Thursday, December 18, 2008

A simple and frugal Christmas

A friend of mine commented to me recently that her young children have such high expectations as Christmas approaches, they take it as a sign that Santa doesn't like them or that they have bad parents, if the gifts received on the 25th do not meet the exacting standards of their juvenile approval. My friend can hardly wait for the Christmas season to be over, and I can relate to what she is saying.
I felt like that year after year, dreading the Christmas season and looking forward instead to that magical break between the 26th and the New Year: a time when I do not have to work, and when the days drift by and blend together in blissful harmony. Usually.

I think that this year something in my and my husband's minds snapped when we realised this sacred celebration was being looked at to a smaller or greater degree as a mail-order catalog for consuming THINGS.
You know, THINGS: plastic, cosmetic, metal, and electronic bits all stuck together in various combinatins and formations with amazing promises of fun, beauty, prestige, and exhorbitant price tags to boot.

And so R and I, as monarchs of our little realm, set out to make things CHANGE.

Basically our family is trying to consume less in all areas, not just at this time of year. To walk more gently upon the earth. So the children can see there is a reason for what we're doing...I hope. At least they'll be able to see that we're trying to be consistent.
We're putting effort into reducing our consumption of electricity and water (not as much effort as we could, but baby steps are ok too), I've switched to cloth for things (like hankies) we used to buy as disposables, and we recycle and repurpose as many things we can. This is our hanky box, which has replaced the tissue box much to the disgust of some family members. That's ok I tell them, they'll get over it. If they really want disposable tissues I won't stop them buying some with their own money. I'm very kind like that, hee hee!

In fact I am so efficient (tongue in cheek here) that the junk mail catalogs tend to end up in the bin without ever coming into the house, as many times as I can get away with it!

We explained to the younger children that even Santa Claus / Father Christmas has to work with what the parents say and what they can afford. Yes, even the big man in red himself has rules to work under; that's why kids in poor countries and those whose parents don't have enough to make ends meet might not receive more than a hug this festive season - some kids won't even get that.

So what will happen next week? There will be a shop gift under the tree for each child. Something inexpensive, something they will hopefully get good use from in the year ahead. There will also be something hand made for each of them.

But most importantly, and this is what I'm looking forward to above all else, we will spend time together as a family and share in the joy of remembering the precious gift God gave us two millennia ago: even the Lord Jesus Christ.


Mommy Bee said...

One year my mom had a baby boy in October. On Christmas morning when we older kids all came around the corner into the living room we saw the baby, wrapped in a white blanket, laying in the middle of pile of straw... it's true we were picking straw out of the carpet and couch for weeks, but coming around that corner was certainly something I will not forget.
I'm thinking I want to do something like that for my sons this year (since we will have a baby boy who will be less than 2 months old on Christmas day). I may forgo the straw though. :)